We Know: How to Get a Copy of a Marriage Certificate

What is a marriage certificate?

A marriage certificate is an official certified copy of the information registered when two people get married, including the date and place they were married, their places of birth and residence, and the names of their parents.

When might I need a marriage certificate?

A marriage certificate may be required by an insurance company in order to get coverage for a spouse. You might also need a copy if you are planning to adopt a child or travel to a foreign country, or for immigration, pensions, or military housing. If a woman changes her name at marriage, her marriage certificate is proof that the use of the new name is lawful. Marriage certificates are also very useful when doing genealogical research.

How long will it take to get a marriage certificate?

This will depend on the location. Contact the appropriate office (see below) to find out.

How do I get a copy of a marriage certificate?

The federal government does not maintain files of marriage certificates. They are filed permanently in state, city, county, or other local records offices. You may contact the National Center for Health Statistics for the address of the vital statistics office in the state or area in which the marriage occurred, then write or go to the appropriate office.

What information should I include in my request?

  • full names of bride and groom
  • month, day, and year of marriage
  • place of marriage (city or town, county, and state)
  • purpose for which copy is needed
  • relationship to persons whose record is requested
  • daytime telephone number with area code

Type or print all names and addresses in your letter. Include a check or money order in the correct amount for the number of copies requested, payable to the office holding the certificate.

How much will it cost?

The cost varies from location to location and is subject to change, but currently averages $10 to $20 for an initial copy; additional copies in the same order sometimes cost less. Contact the appropriate vital statistics office to find out their current fees.

What about marriages in other countries?

Contact the embassy or the nearest consulate of the country in which the marriage occurred. Ask your local librarian to help you find addresses and telephone numbers for these offices.

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